By: Dr. Tanya Cotler, Clinical Psychologist
Don’t tell but I had that awful daydream again: New moms and scary thoughts.“ Every time I would descend a stairwell with baby Nila* I imagined falling with her. The day nightmare changes – sometimes I fall on her, or she cracks her head. Sometimes I just shake my head to make the ugly thought go away. ”Molly* sat in front of me curled in a ball , half hiding her face as she slowly shared with me the “day nightmares” she’d been referencing for several weeks in therapy but had been frightened to share. As I sat and listened, Molly’s body slowly unfolded out of its contorted shape and relaxed a bit more into the seat. She shared that she expected my face to be horrified, and opened up about her fear that if she let anyone know the scary thoughts she was having then they would be horrified or maybe worse actually take her baby away. I helped Molly label these thoughts- they are intrusive thoughts- they are uninvited and come on their own without invitation and indeed can be quite disturbing, but, they are actually quite normal.
As new mothers the idea of being solely responsible for the well being and protection of a precious new little life can be quite overwhelming and indeed anxiety provoking and therefore intrusive thoughts are quite normal and common. These thoughts are a common way for the human mind to test out scenarios especially when it’s an issue of importance or the person is in a state of increased anxiety. Well, here we are new mom (common increased anxiety) and something she cares about (clearly it’s her baby) and so intrusive thoughts show up.
Donald Winnicott, a prominent English pediatrician and psychoanalyst, coined the term “maternal preoccupation” to describe the early mental process when a mothers mind is constantly focused on her baby. He depicted the optimal “holding” environment for a new baby to thrive as one in which the mother is psychically and physically present for the infant’s needs. That is, just as a new mother is constantly physically occupied with her newborn baby’s needs (diaper, feed, nap repeat!), so too is her mind constantly occupied by nap times, feed times, and concerns over baby‘s physical and emotional safety and health. Winnicott explained that the mother’s mental preoccupation, and sensitive responding to baby, facilitates the building of a secure attachment bond which is grounded in mom and babe tuning in to one another’s feelings, thoughts and behaviors. Moreover, there is now scientific evidence to support the normalcy of maternal preoccupation. There are brain changes such as changes in grey matter, that occur in most women post partum. These changes help the mother to be increasingly empathic toward her baby’s experience, while devoting less “brain space” to other trivial stuff like memories of what was for dinner the day before (Insert “mommy brain experience” here).
Despite worrying being part of a normal maternal mental process, at times this experience of preoccupation can also cause a mother undue distress. A mother may feel her mind is unrelenting with thoughts of baby’s well being or she may constantly obsess over bad things happening. When the anxiety feels inescapable, even the most basic decision making becomes difficult. For many this is exacerbated by the information overload and constant opinions from well meaning friends, family (and strangers in grocery lines!). When the scary thoughts feel all consuming and interfere with daily functioning or when a mother starts to develop behaviors to attempt to ward off the “bad” from happening, then it’s possible the mom is struggling with postpartum anxiety or post partum OCD. Indeed, If a new mother finds herself wondering whether her worries and scary thoughts are too much, or she struggles to know what is real or not real, then it is very important to seek professional opinion and support. A mother should not feel alone and plagued by these thoughts.
Indeed, it is common to avoid seeking advice or support because the constant worry and anxiety feels embarrassing or shameful. The problem is that shame over scary thoughts, perceiving them as dangerous and unacceptable, or as evidence of being a bad mother, can make these thoughts even more pervasive. That is, the secrecy and shame increases feelings of sadness, loneliness and guilt which perpetuates the scary thoughts themselves. Alternatively, sharing these thoughts with a trusted friend, family member or professional may help with tolerating and accepting the dichotomy of emotional experience in motherhood- the love and hate, happiness and sadness, anxiety and calm. The goal when experiencing these scary thoughts is to be able to notice these thoughts, acknowledge them, and then let them go.
A word on trauma: if a new mother has experienced an overwhelming, incomprehensible and devastating psychological experience (be it in childhood, throughout her lifespan, in pregnancy or previous pregnancies, or in labor or birth), scary thoughts can emerge as a fear of the experience reoccurring or as a fear of something else uncontrollable happening. Like a lighthouse, the mind starts to scan the environment for the next ship- the next bad thing- as if catching it before it happens will keep her safe. This form of “hypervigilance” gives power to the scary thought: it’s the belief that the mother is protecting herself or her baby by obsessing/not taking her mind off of the bad that may happen. If you are worried about how a difficult experience has affected you – and wonder if you are reacting to it or if your scary thoughts are connected to it, talking to a professional is really important and you deserve the support.
The important take home? If you would like to consult a professional about your experience of worries and scary thoughts post partum, you should always feel you can. It may be normal to worry as a new mom, but you should never be suffering in your worries. If you do not know where to turn, you can always look at PSI (post partum support international) for a list of professionals trained in perinatal mental health in your area. You are not – and should not- feel alone.
For further information or to contact the author
Dr. Tanya Cotler
By: Katrina Fiore, Thrive Family Health
It seems that 2019 is going to be yet another fast paced year with us already skimming past the first week of January. Yesterday it was December 18th
and I was picking up some last minute stocking stuffers at Winners, and then it was all of a sudden 11:59 pm and I heard my loved ones around me chanting, “Three! – Two! – One!” and we all were yelling, “Happy New Year!!” I find that it’s very simple for one to say that they are going to achieve all of our goals before the New Year actually
kicks in. I don’t know about you, but I thought of so many different meal preparation ideas. I looked on Pinterest at healthy recipes I could incorporate into my diet with the use of my versatile Crockpot, and I made an oath
with myself to ditch my after work Netflix binge habits and go to the gym for a change. At the beginning of the year, we’ve all been in that spot that we want to improve ourselves, make more out of our same ol’ weekly routine, and become a healthier, more determined version of ourselves. At the end of the day, it’s in our hands only to achieve these outstanding goals. Is that so much to ask of ourselves?The answer is NO, my wonderful Thrive friends! We are all able and capable of meal planning for the week on a work shy Sunday, dragging ourselves to the gym after a dragged out day of sitting at a desk, and finding an activity that helps us both physically and mentally whether that is short term or long-term. After reading The Conversation’s article, Top Five Ways to Boost Your Health in 2019,
I found some beneficial tips that can be used to start of 2019 the healthy, and how to stick with these alterations throughout the year. According to recent statistics, the wellness industry was worth $4.2 trillion in 2017, and keeps growing as we approach the year 20191
. Taking into account these high numbers, it’s definitely time to jump on the health bandwagon so that we can truly thrive
, don’t you think?
“Eat your fruits and vegetables”. You’ve surely heard this from time and time again growing up from your nagging parents, and hey you may even be that nagging parent now. However, this statement will never not be true. Science is gathering more and more research every day that a vegan based lifestyle is the best thing for our health in the long run. Whether that’s true or not, incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables can only benefit your health. Not only does it make your skin glow, it has a major impact on brain function. It is proven that for every additional 100 grams of fruit or vegetables eaten, there is a 3% reduction in the risk of depression. In the winter months, it’s easier to fall into a depressive state, as the weather is colder and it’s gloomy outside. I’d like to think that nobody would like to begin their “new year, new me” phase with any sort of depressive thoughts. Well! Eating fruit and vegetables can help you decrease these tendencies that the winter season may bring. If you feel like you need more of a boost than what eating your daily dose of fruits and vegetables provide, then Polyphenols may be a beneficial thing to add to your morning this year. Polyphenols are micronutrients that we get through certain plant-based foods. Certain foods have a higher dose of Polyphenols than others. These types of fruits and vegetables include dark berries, apples, peaches, nuts, and seeds. They’re packed with antioxidants and potential health benefits.These phytochemicals are naturally occurring fruits and vegetables, and are responsible for helping you to stay healthy. Unlike vitamins, they aren’t essential to our health, but they do prevent diseases and keep the body working effectively by keeping the immune system strong and giving us an anti- inflammatory effect. They are especially beneficial to take if one has an existing health issue, such as diabetes, cancer, or cardiovascular. They may help prevent the progression of these issues.
Though eating healthier is a way to improve our overall health, sitting less is also a way to help our bodies. Sometimes it can be difficult to incorporate exercise into our busy schedules. It almost seems like we’re always sitting, don’t you think? Whether you’re at your desk at work, you’re in class, or on the TTC. That’s the underlying issue, and you have to train yourself to change that starting today! Exercise not only helps reduce the waistlines, but also helps create the right balance between energy in and energy out. What I usually do that forces me into a workout routine for the week is pre – paying for my workout sessions or buying a gym membership. I will pay in advance for my activity online (thank goodness everything is online now-a-days). This forces me to bundle up, and face the bone chilling wind that winter has to offer.
It’s funny that I just told you to minimize the act of sitting in the New Year, and now I’m going to tell you to get more sleep as well. According to The Conversation, a healthy adult should be getting at least 6 hours, and a maximum of 9 hours of sleep throughout the night. A better night’s sleep not only keeps your brain ticking for the day ahead, but also improves your dietary intake. If one is suffering from sleep deprivation, they are more likely to crave food than they would if they had gotten a proper amount of sleep the night prior. According to research, sleep deprivation can increase your daily intake by 400 calories. That being said, make sure to get a good night’s sleep, but don’t overdo it as too much sleep also increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
If you’ve already made it this far on my health rant, you might as well hear about how drinking more water can better your health as well. I know, you’ve heard it time and time before. Some days you can’t tell whether or not your headache is from your lack of water, the weather or lack of exercise. Majority of the time, it’s probably from that basic necessity of life that oh right! You need! According to recent studies, even being 1% dehydrated can impair your ability to concentrate. This can either impair your performance at work or at school, and can increase your stress levels (and who needs that in 2019?). In order to tell if you could use more water in your diet, you need to check what colour your urine is. If your urine is bright orange, then you are lacking water and need to dose up. The perfect colour for your urine is pale straw, and if you obtain that you are perfectly hydrated. Keep it up!
The underlying area that these tips and techniques help with is stress management. Actively contributing to your health through eating your fruits and vegetables, taking a supplement, minimizing the Netflix binge watching by taking up a fun activity, getting a good amount of sleep to work that brain of yours, and drinking water like it’s wine are just the minimum of what helps reduce the stress in your life. But boy, do they ever make a difference!
Thrive is so grateful to be a part of your health goals and wants to help you feel your absolute best! Our practitioners are here to help you optimize your health and well-being all year long.
And with January already coming to a close, it’s a great time to create your S.M.A.R.T. Goals to set you up for success in 2019.
S is for SPECIFIC - Describe your goal as much as possible, with a clear vision and description of what you would like to achieve.
M is for MEASURABLE - It’s important to be able to measure your goal, so be sure to include a metric system with a target that you are wanting to reach.
A is for ATTAINABLE - Your goal should be challenging, but ensure it is also realistic.
R is for RELEVANT - Is your goal consistent with other goals you have achieved or set for yourself? Does it align with your current and long-term plans?
T is for TIMELY - Set a start and end date for when you’d like to have your goal achieved by. This will help you with time management and give yourself a little bit of urgency.
From the entire team at Thrive, we wish you a happy and healthy year ahead!
By Dr. Lindsay Grieve, DC
Becoming a mom has been such a life-changing experience for myself. As a “modern-day” mom I try to be a variety of things for my son: role model, health advocate, provide a loving & nurturing environment and help my son grow up and develop into the person he was meant to be. Oh and did I say fun? I want to do all of the above and also be remembered as the “fun mom”….am I asking for too much?
With all those objectives in mind I make an effort to prepare healthy meals, incorporate fun activities, play dates, get him to bed in a timely manner, teach him to move his body, challenge his mind and exercise his brain. Yes you read that right, exercise his brain!
There is so much growth and development that happens in a child’s first year of life. By the age of 1, the brain grows 2.5-3x it’s size from birth. 1,000 to 100,000 brain synapses are formed in the first year of life alone. By the age of 2, the brain reaches 80-90% of it’s adult volume. And by the age of 6, they have formed almost all of the major sensory and motor pathways they will need for their entire adult life. That is an immense amount of growth and development in a short amount of time! There are a lot of things, particularly in modern-day, that can interfere or hinder a child’s normal growth and development: birth trauma, skipping milestones (ex: going from sitting straight to walking, missing the crawling stage), overuse of “screen-time” (iPad, computer, cell phone, video games, TV, etc), lack of movement and stress.
Did you know movement and brain function are inter-related? A large study conducted in California assessed 1 million students over a 10 year period and found that just 20 minutes of walking improved a child’s ability to concentrate and improved their overall performance on an academic test. Movement and cognition happen in the same parts of the brain and use the same pathways. Our ability to think, control our emotions, pay attention, understand math, learn to spell and use language are all related to our body’s ability to move well.
What if I told you that you can help stimulate your child’s brain by doing specific exercises? When we practice movement patterns we build nerve pathways and establish connections in the brain. A study was conducted in 2003 that looked at the effect of 6 months of brain-coordination exercises on kids with learning difficulties. The children who were in the exercise group had significant improvements in reading, writing & comprehension, dexterity and speech fluency. When they followed up with those kids 4 years later the children had still maintained those same improvements….it’s long lasting!
Tonight try these 3 brain stimulating exercises with your little ones. (Some of the exercises may be challenging at first but the exciting thing is, the brain will catch on.) Get down on the floor with your kids and and make it a fun activity. My son has a blast doing them and some of the exercises are even challenging for me too! We aim to do the exercises every other day.
Log Rolls: great for stimulating the vestibular area of the brain.
Have your child lay on their stomach with their arms out overhead. Keep the body straight and try and encourage them to use their abdominal muscles to slowly roll onto their back. Continue rolling back and forth and work up to 12 rolls to each side.
Inch worms: Great for increasing central muscle tone and overall increasing stimulation to the whole brain. This exercise incorporates cross-body movement which connects the two halves of the brain.
Have you child lay on their back on the floor with their arms at their side, knees bent and their feet flat on the floor. Instruct them to roll one shoulder up and backwards well pushing a little with their feet. This will drag and push the body along the floor. Then roll up the opposite shoulder and do the same. Continue the exercise for 2 minutes.
CrossCrawling: This is great for integrating the left and right sides of the brain. All actives of the brain require input from both sides of the brain and this movement is essential for optimal brain function for all forms of learning: Reading, thinking, math behaviour, emotional control and planning. Cross-crawling is also essential for training the eyes to cross the midline and for the eyes to focus and track.
Get on your hands and knees. Move the opposite arm and leg forward at the same time. Try to focus on your hands when you do this exercise. Continue for 60 seconds.
For more information and video demonstrations of the above exercises, check out Dr. Lindsay Grieve’s website and blog: www.drlindsaygrieve.com
As the temperatures begin to cool and our schedules begin to look hectic, we can all succumb to that first seasonal cold. Cold and Flu season may not be here yet, but we know that it is on its way!
We at Thrive wanted to give your immune system a little boost by giving you some ideas on what you can incorporate into your diet that might help you fight off those nasty germs.
Immune Boosting Foods:
Add some garlic to your dishes and not only enhance the flavours of your foods, but also allow your white-blood cells (aka. The Cold Fighters), to flourish and increases the efficiency of antibody production. This means your body is able to fight off any virus more easily, and makes the long cold and flu season a bit shorter. Have trouble digesting garlic? Try taking out the green root in the centre of each clove to make those garlic burps a bit less potent.
Lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges- you name it- if it’s a citrus, it has Vitamin C. Increasing your Vitamin C intake naturally increases your immune efficiency, which is exactly what we need for this time of year. If you need an easy way to add a bit more Vitamin C into your diet, as well as help increase your water intake, try adding lemon to your morning glass of water. Not only do you instantly have flavoured water, you start off your day right with a bit of Vitamin C!
Have you been noticing this spice everywhere these days? Us too! But for good reason- turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory and more recent studies show that it also might be good for reducing fever. So drink up those Turmeric lattes and eat up some Indian curries and you may be helping your health!
These beauties have twice the amount of Vitamin C as citrus, and the added bonus of beta-carotene which is great for healthy skin. Add some to your stir fry or simply eat as a snack with hummus (perhaps garlic hummus?) and your body will thank you!
Ginger works in the same way as Vitamin C and can help you avoid a cold. It can also help if you are just starting a cold by relieving your sore throat. Feel a tingle in your throat? Boil some ginger and lemon to make a natural tea that soothes the throat and boosts your immune system. Add a bit of honey and you have a sure fire way of fighting those cold systems.
For an easy way to combine some of these great immune-boosting ingredients (and some not mentioned here), check out this Turmeric Pineapple Kiwi and Kale recipe:
2 cups frozen pineapple
¾ cups unsweetened almond milk
½ tsp turmeric
2 cups Kale
Blend all ingredients and enjoy!
Thrive is thrilled to announce that it has been selected as the 2018 Consumer Choice Award winner in the category of Naturopathic Medicine in the Toronto Central Region!
It has always been Dr. Kristin Heins’ mission to provide individualized and holistic care where her patients receive truly specialized treatments that support both their mental and physical well-being. Dr. Heins is extremely grateful to be recognized for her work and will continue to provide current and future patients with optimal care to help them feel their absolute best.
Thank you from the entire team here at Thrive for this incredible honour!
Summertime carries with it an energy of excitement, enjoyment and freedom. The days are longer, the weather inviting. For many, we translate this energy into a lifestyle that includes more barbeques, social events, alcohol and often less nutritious food choices. With so few months to enjoy social time comfortably outside with friends, I think switching our mindset from “avoidance” to “improved” is a great way to approach food and alcohol consumption this summer. Many patients come in and ask how to make reasonable improvements to their summer routines and so decided to share a few tips and suggestions in this month’s newsletter:
• Loading up on creamy side dishes and red meat barbeque is not great for heart health or our waistline. Opt instead to grill vegetables on the bbq and experiment with salmon and fish recipes that cook in a flash and are part of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet.
• Alcohol intake is typically a calorie exploder in the summer. Try and clean up your drinking, to the extent this can be true, by using clear alcohol (vodka, gin, tequila) and mixing with low sugar and low sodium options like soda stream water with lemon and lime slices or low sodium San Pellegrino. Remember also that most beer and many vodkas are wheat-based …. so if this is a food group you try and avoid in food form it is typically best avoided as an alcohol also.
• Most of us are more social in the summer. Try making socializing and connecting with family and friends the “treat” and not use social events as a reason to have two plates of dessert.
• Bring nutritious and seasonal fruits and vegetables to parties or have them out at your own! Opting to pick at these as snacks between meals is a great way to fill the urge while also being good to your body.
A Word on Blood Services and Our Community:
Many of us know that donating blood can save lives. Medical advancements make it so that today, a number of blood related diseases like leukemia, aplastic anemia, certain metabolic disorders and inherited immune system diseases can also be treated with donated stem cells.
In September, Thrive has decided to have information available at the clinic for patients looking to learn more about donating blood services. We want to offer patients more detailed information on steps and facts about blood donation and registering to be stem cell donor. Keep your eyes and ears open and don’t forget to pick up your fact sheet when in the clinic.
If you want more information today, start by checking out www.blood.ca
By: Dr. Kristin Heins ND, RP (qualifying)
I wanted to share an article on allergies as many this time of year suffer seasonal allergy symptoms. At a fun time of year to enjoy the outdoors, no one wants to be overwhelmed with congestion and low energy!!
Allergies occur when the body mounts an immune system response to substances inhaled or ingested from the environment. For allergy sufferers, these substances (called allergens) enter the body and then the body sends out an immune particle (called an immunoglobulin) to attack the foreign substance! An inflammatory cascade is then set in motion. For allergy sufferers, the rest is known and seen through their symptoms!
Common Allergy Symptoms:
Runny nose, runny and / or itchy eyes, sinus inflammation and headaches, generalized fatigue, shortness of breath, asthma. Skin conditions can include rashes or darkening around the eyes “allergic shiner” is also common. For some ingested allergens we can have anaphylaxis or severe swelling in the throat, hives and for less severe sensitivities you may have indigestion, gas, cramping or bowel changes (not considered an allergy but still a cause of immune response).
What we also now know is that allergen / immune complex binding can have mood and brain involvement causing symptoms like agitation, irritability and / or depression.
Allergy Triad: allergies, asthma, eczema – all signs of a hyper responsiveness of the immune system.
Tip #1: Eat Plenty of foods rich in antioxidants as well as minerals essential to the immune system.
- Oxidation increases as our body fights off germs. Help offset this reaction with antioxidant foods.
- Foods containing beta- carotene, including dark green, yellow, and orange vegetables. Eat at least two servings of one or more of these vegetables daily.
- Vegetables and fruits that contain vitamin C, such as broccoli, green/red peppers, cabbage, collard greens, and citrus fruits. Eat at least one-2 servings daily. Vitamin C is especially important for those with allergies as vitamin C plays a major role in modulating the histamine response which plays a major role in allergic congestion and skin irritation.
- Foods containing vitamin E, especially seeds and nuts, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and beans.
Tip #2: Reduce Allergen exposure by using a salt water (saline) nasal rinse daily during allergy season.
Tip #3: See a specialist to devise an individualized plan to optimize your immune functionality and support organs of elimination (liver, bowel, lymph, kidneys) that may be under functioning. Dr. Heins or a licensed Naturopathic Doctor can customize a supplement approach based on your specific symptoms and allergy (immune) presentation.
Written by: Dr. Kristin Heins, ND
Just a reminder that Thrive now has an osteopath, Marine Burkhardt!
Marine received her DOMP (Diploma of Osteopathy Manual Practitioner) from the Osteopathic College of Provence (COP) in France in 2017 after a 5 year training period.
She has a holistic approach to Osteopathy and adapts her treatment according to the patients unique needs. She practices visceral, cranio-sacral therapy and various joint techniques.
She has a special interest in care for children, newborns and pregnant women. Her graduation thesis studied postnatal treatment of mothers with breastfeeding issues. In her studies, she practiced cranial techniques with the goal of impacting lactation hormones to stimulate and regulate milk production. Very promising results were visible during these studies, which encouraged her to further pursue investigation of these techniques.
The range of her techniques is beneficial to all kind of patients. As an osteopath, she treats athletes who train and need maintenance care on a regular basis or are recovering from injuries. Her techniques are also very helpful in stress-management and various physical conditions, including chronic headaches.
She will welcome you in French and in English.
Her hours are as follows:
Wednesdays 8:30am-12pm, 3:30pm-7pm
You can book your initial appointment online or call the office at 647-352-7911.
By Dr. Kristin Heins
Summer weather allows us all to spend more time outdoors. We are encouraged to increase outdoor activity and many of us prefer to take in some time outdoors while being active anyway. With increased walking, running, hiking or swimming you may end up with new injuries or even aggravating old injuries or conditions.
It is always best to see a licensed health care practitioner to attend to your case specifics and format an individualized plan; but, below are some quick tips to help you make the most of the increased activity potential that summer affords while reducing the chance of injury or body strain.
- Know your limits: gradually increase endurance activities and take rest days after increased exertion.
- Stretch: Be sure to follow a stretching routine that addresses targeted areas to help prevent strain injuries.
- Attend to your symptoms: If your body is sending you messages it is hurt – listen. See your doctor, naturopath, physiotherapist or chiropractor to have an assessment to see what needs to be done to best heal and resolve the issue.
- Stay hydrated: Lactic acid builds in muscles after exertion and causes stiffness and soreness. It requires proper hydration to be best eliminated so make sure to drink before and after activity.
- Supplementation: If you have inflammatory conditions it may be useful to get on a supplementation regime to assist in optimizing you management of it. This way you can stay as active as possible in a non detrimental way.